Skip

Dora Grows Up.
March 18, 2009 9:18 AM   Subscribe

Dora Grows Up. Nickelodeon and Mattel have introduced a whole new look for beloved cartoon Dora the Explorer. But the new look has people asking, Is Dora too sexy? Nick and Mattel try to smooth things over.
posted by lunit (137 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's just a line extension, no big whoop.
posted by Mister_A at 9:21 AM on March 18, 2009


They freaked out over the Silhouette? Hah.

But now the kids' channel and toy company have assuaged the masses with a fully detailed rendering of the doll (pictured), complete with tunic and leggings. Turns out that's a long shirt as opposed to a short dress.

(this link has the real image)
posted by delmoi at 9:24 AM on March 18, 2009


Um, that looks pretty harmless to me...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:25 AM on March 18, 2009


Based on that teaser image, I'm kind of curious as to how many convictions for pedophilia you need before you think the new Dora is "sexy".
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:26 AM on March 18, 2009 [12 favorites]




What?

She looks like a normal pre-teen girl (well, a cartoon version of one). Anybody who thinks they sexed her up needs to have their heads examined.
posted by empath at 9:28 AM on March 18, 2009


The 'new look' link also has the new look.
posted by gman at 9:28 AM on March 18, 2009


It seems pretty reasonable that they would make a "new" Dora aimed at an older audience, like when Jim Henson redesigned Kermit the Frog to have a long, thick, always-visible penis. As kids grow up, why not make the characters grow up also? That way, the kids will get to see that as little girls grow up, they should start wearing short skirts and earrings and impractical shoes, just like when I grew up with the "new" Kermit, I saw that I should have a large, ungainly, veined green member slapping against my thighs. This is just what growing up is.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:29 AM on March 18, 2009 [59 favorites]


The you could marry dora!
posted by jonmc at 9:29 AM on March 18, 2009


Dora grew up and isn't so rolly-polly anymore (who happens to be fond of showing off her midriff, the tramp!). But give fearful mothers a mysterious silhouette and the fill in the empty space with images of some tween skank. But how do they feel about child pagenteers?
posted by filthy light thief at 9:29 AM on March 18, 2009


I think she looks nice... but now all they have to do to make her completely grown up is add obvious breasts. At least they had the common sense not to give the tween Dora boobs.
posted by lizbunny at 9:32 AM on March 18, 2009


Parental outrage over nonsense like this always has me reexamining whether I want kids in the future. Because what if I turn into... one of those people?
posted by naju at 9:33 AM on March 18, 2009 [9 favorites]


I could kind of see the silhouette throwing people off. Definitely have to wonder about parents' mindsets that they'd assume "short skirt" rather than "long shirt over pants," though.

I envision this product extension failing. Dora is a "little kids" thing, and kids will reject it. Kids always reject the toys they used to love as they strive to be "more grown up" and move on to the next thing. Kids who loved Barney move on to Transformers, and would reject a "more grown up" Barney.

Really, the only exceptions I can even think of are successful toy/brand lines that are extended downward to younger ages, like Lego/Duplo.
posted by explosion at 9:34 AM on March 18, 2009


I'm not so much scared by her new outfit as I am by her glassy, thousand-yard stare. What is she on and did she bring enough for the whole class?
posted by The Whelk at 9:35 AM on March 18, 2009


So what if she got some liposuction for her cheeks. Don't we all go through that stage?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:35 AM on March 18, 2009


Oh you Americans and your crazy. I guess there is always someone ready to write an angry letter.
posted by chunking express at 9:36 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, sexy is not a word that comes to mind when I look at that picture.
posted by diogenes at 9:37 AM on March 18, 2009


Would you like to touch my monkey?
posted by mazola at 9:38 AM on March 18, 2009


Jesus fucking christ, it's a DOLL that's supposed to be TEN YEARS OLD. If you think it's "too sexy," there may be something wrong with you.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:38 AM on March 18, 2009


It's not "is she too sexy?", it's "is she too sexualized?"

It is a bit of a relief that the silhouette turned out not to be a minidress. On the other hand, look at the body language. Toddler Dora stands straight, both feet on the ground, and waves. Tween Dora poses, and in that careful 3/4 pose with one foot off the floor.

I realize that even the full color drawing (as opposed to the shadow) isn't much to go on, but Tween Dora doesn't seem own her space the way Toddler Dora does. It's accurate in the way that girls learn as they get older that they shouldn't face people head-on, or be too "aggressive", but I'm not sure that's a lesson I actually want to see included in yet another kids show.
posted by Karmakaze at 9:39 AM on March 18, 2009 [27 favorites]


so by initially releasing a silhouette, they drove folks mad. this is kinda an interesting example of anxious projection, and also just goes to prove my long held theory: silhouettes are pretty sexy, huh?
posted by es_de_bah at 9:39 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Times like this, I feel blessed to have been raised on Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers.
posted by uri at 9:40 AM on March 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Having shown her the new illustration, my wife now completely understands why I called her "Dora" during the last exercise of our conjugal rights.
posted by maxwelton at 9:41 AM on March 18, 2009


Ugh. They made a really really cool strong character for girls into one more femme-y pink-wearing long-hair big-eyed Disney princess. That sucks.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:47 AM on March 18, 2009 [11 favorites]


Sexiness isn't what jumps out at me at all. Rather, I'm surprised at just how much less Hispanic she looks - which was kinda the point of Dora (bi-lingual, ethnic pride, etc.). I wonder if they'll tone down her accent too?
posted by jbickers at 9:49 AM on March 18, 2009


Hi! This is my new look! It is el atractivo! Can you say 'el atractivo'?




Great job!
posted by nosila at 9:49 AM on March 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, "sexualized" is a better word. And not all of the controversy surrounds just the silhouette - there are reactions to the full picture as well.

In some ways, I think the grow-up image of Dora is realistic for what one might expect for a 10-year-old girl in this culture, but in other ways I'm concerned that the new Dora will mean abandoning much of what made the younger Dora an "Explorer," so often an identity reserved for boys. Dora the Explorer helped usher in a new type of girl role model (rugged, independent, pudgy, etc.) and by transforming her into a "tween" typical of many other depictions of middle-school aged girls out there, they're kind of selling out important pieces of her image that helped make the cartoon such a success in the first place.
posted by lunit at 9:49 AM on March 18, 2009 [12 favorites]


I still think Dora went back in a time machine to the late 70's so she could grow up to be the "I Married Dora" Dora. There's a resemblance. (I had such a crush on Elizabeth Pena).
posted by jonmc at 9:51 AM on March 18, 2009


Swiper! No swiping!
posted by jquinby at 9:53 AM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm hardly a Dora the Explorer fan, but I personally don't like the change. Even though Dora isn't actually a slutted up tart, I still think they made her too "girly" wearing the frilly tunic type thing, earings, etc. That's not really practical explorer wear. It's not really an empowering image to sell to little girls.

On the other hand, it would probably sell pretty well.
posted by delmoi at 9:54 AM on March 18, 2009


I heard long ago that the number 1–selling Dora accessory was her kitchen set. I was appalled that they even made a Dora the Explorer kitchen set. This is just another step down that road.

I'm glad some kids got the non-bullshit version growing up. It's unfortunate that the creators don't care.

Dora you can do it
With all your pots and pans
And your ageless old friend fire
And your magic woman hands

- Cook That Dinner Dora
posted by wemayfreeze at 9:55 AM on March 18, 2009


hyper, NO HYPING!! hyper, NO HYPING!!
posted by pyramid termite at 9:56 AM on March 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


I was appalled that they even made a Dora the Explorer kitchen set.

Even explorers gotta eat.
posted by jonmc at 9:58 AM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Definitely have to wonder about parents' mindsets that they'd assume "short skirt" rather than "long shirt over pants," though.

Mindset? Come on, most people would see that as a skirt and not as a 'long shirt'
posted by delmoi at 9:58 AM on March 18, 2009


Tween Dora poses, and in that careful 3/4 pose with one foot off the floor.

Isn't she running, and caught mid-stride? That seems like the opposite of "posing." Or maybe we're looking at different pictures.
posted by yoink at 10:01 AM on March 18, 2009


Old Dora vs New Dora: Let's compare and contrast!

More highlights are added to the eyes, making them look like they're sparkling!

Additional details are added to the inside of her mouth, drawing the eye there. In addition, she now has visible lips, signalling that she's either wearing lipstick, or she's simply got the noticeable lips that lazily signal "female" in cartoons. (In lots of cartoons, the male characters, being "normal", have simply-drawn mouths -- a line or a circle or whatever; only the females, being the abnormal gender, have to have lips noticeably visible to signal what they are -- witness Garfield versus Arlene, or Dagwood versus Blondie, or like any superhero comics where the superheroines appear to be wearing lipstick at all times).

There are now eyelashes, prettying up the eyes in the same way that they prettied up the mouth. And earrings, prettying up the ears.

The clothes are more suited to hanging out at the mall than digging in the dirt.

The outlines of the character are either lighter or nonexistent, making her easier on the eyes than the slightly-more jarring dark outlines of the younger Dora. The new version looks like less an active subject, more a good-looking illustration.

They've made this new Dora prettier, girlier. Dora is no longer an every-child; she is a definite Female. She is Pretty. She doesn't look like she's about to roll out a map and figure something out in the woods, she looks like she's about to browse the aisles at Claire's Accessories. This is not a character for all kids, this is distinctly a character for Girls, where Girl equals Pretty, not as ready to get her hands dirty. I find this character redesign troubling, 'cause Dora seemed like such an easy way to get little boys to identify with a female character, and such an easy way to normalize the idea that girls are supposed to do things, not just be looked at. Not anymore, apparently; the downfall of feminism is not that men are actively trying to undermine the idea of gender equality, it's that said undermining is seen as not-that-big-a-deal whenever there's a few extra dollars to be made by reinforcing a stereotype or two.

She looks less Latina to me too, but whatevs, I appear to be more pissy about the patriarchy than racism on this particular day.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:02 AM on March 18, 2009 [92 favorites]


She's not bad; she's just drawn that way.
posted by 7segment at 10:03 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't even know why I'm asking, but what is the difference between short dress/long shirt, aside from the opaque leggings? Or is it just that the silhouette makes her look bare-legged?

Original Dora looks more fun to hang out with and a lot lower-maintenance.
posted by carbide at 10:03 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


She's only sexy if you consider freaks with gigantic heads sexy. Also, Dora insults the intelligence of people of all ages. It's the worst children's show ever devised. Making you children watch that dreck will make them both dumb and ugly.
posted by GuyZero at 10:05 AM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


*leans slightly forward from the shadows and mutters liplessly* "She's a whore, Norman ... nothing but a dirty whore."
posted by adipocere at 10:06 AM on March 18, 2009


ClaudiaCenter: "Ugh. They made a really really cool strong character for girls into one more femme-y pink-wearing long-hair big-eyed Disney princess. That sucks."

Well she does look a little more "girly" and has longer hair, but both old and new outfits are around 50% pink and she's always had enormous eyes. I've seen no indication that her being a cool strong character for girls has changed. We'll have to see what the writers have in store.
posted by Science! at 10:08 AM on March 18, 2009


This new look is going to drive Herr K mad.
posted by felix betachat at 10:12 AM on March 18, 2009


I wonder what the new, updated Boots and Swiper will look like. Swiper already wears a doo-rag, so they'll probably turn him into some wife-beater-wearing, blinged-out gangsta. Boots obviously has to wear boots: maybe they'll turn them into combat boots and muscle him up. This way you can keep the boys interested with some action-figure-y stereotypes as well.
posted by nushustu at 10:16 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


One of the things I really like about Dora (as the parent of a Dora & Diego-obsessed 3-year-old) is that Dora has short hair and doesn't wear dresses. She's an explorer! She's a nice antidote to all the 'princess' crap. I'm really disappointed that the older version has long hair and a dress (and yes, at least for my daughter, if it has a skirt then it's a princess dress).
posted by leahwrenn at 10:16 AM on March 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh you Americans and your crazy. I guess there is always someone ready to write an angry letter.

Who writes letters these days? Twittering is a quicker way to raise the angry mob to form a facebook group and sign e-petitions.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:19 AM on March 18, 2009


Just to reiterate: isn't Dora already making like a mothefukadillion dollars a second? Why exactly are they messing with it? If they want a more girly character, fine, make a new one, but a strictly business standpoint this sounds like a huge mistake.
posted by jonmc at 10:25 AM on March 18, 2009


Sexiness isn't what jumps out at me at all. Rather, I'm surprised at just how much less Hispanic she looks

You realize that Hispanics can be of any race or color, and so we don't really have one look, right?

But otherwise, Greg Nog said it all. They've taken a cute, pudgy little girl and sexualized her. And she's supposed to be ten in this new example.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:25 AM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


nushutu,

One of the linked articles said that they have gotten rid of Swiper and Boots for "New Dora". Instead, she will be hanging with a some new girl friends.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:28 AM on March 18, 2009


As tweenage Dora, our heroine has moved to the big city, attends middle school and has a whole new fashionable look. What’s more, she now has a rich online world in which girls can explore, play games, customize, and most importantly solve mysteries with Dora and her new friends. Adding to the play value, Dora’s online world is interactive with the new doll line.

This is the part I'm hating on the hardest. I used to go out with a woman with a two-year-old daughter, and this girl loved her some Dora. Before this time, I had next to no contact with the show, but in watching it with this little girl, I came to think it was completely awesome that a show about exploring around outside had such a following. Dora would quest through the forest, being all bilingual and whatnot, and after the show, the little girl would usually want to go play outside and do some exploring of her own.

This Dora? Sound like her new exploration space is this "rich online world," which I'm absolutely sure will look just like some ad-choked Nickelodeon site that goes live a couple days before the revamped show airs. These girls will almost certainly be encouraged to get their parents to help them "explore" the DoraShop page for all their DoraNeeds.

I'm betting this is all about the Merch. They've sold all the Dora jumpers and sippy cups they're gonna sell - time to move on to those fat tween dollars.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:34 AM on March 18, 2009 [13 favorites]


Here we learn that Dora derives her exploring roots from Pocahontas and John Rolfe as midwived by Disney.
posted by doobiedoo at 10:40 AM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Parents outraged over the new Dora have also expressed anger over EVERY JAPANESE MOVIE, COMIC BOOK, OR OTHER FORM OF MEDIA EVER PRODUCED.
posted by koeselitz at 10:41 AM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Even Godzilla?
posted by jonmc at 10:46 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


THE CONTENT SANDWICHED BETWEEN ATTEMPTS TO MARKET TO MYSELF AND MY CHILD MUST CONTAIN NO GENDER CUES. NO TIME FOR EXPLORING ON OUR OWN, BUSY INTERWEBING. KTHX.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 10:48 AM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Women have more prominent (and interesting) lips than men. They're a secondary sexual characteristic, developing at puberty. That has nothing to do with women possibly being "the abnormal gender," nor it is lazy to draw them. It is, however, premature, since presumably she hasn't hit puberty yet.

The earrings? I noticed, but then I'm seeing those on five year olds now. Mind you, it isn't a trend I think is great, but there it is.

I do agree that the new Dora doesn't look as likely to grub about in the dirt, but that might be part of my own preconceptions (and possibly the preconceptions of others) about girls who say "ewww" upon seeing a spider versus girls who are prone to picking them up. I know of girls whose wardrobes are dominated by pink and purple, but will cheerfully examine a dead frog.

Disney Princess? Yeah. I think the biggest problem is that the new Dora looks pretty much like every other chibified bland creation out there. Looks like just another SyFy-type rebranding, designed to appeal to new audiences while often abandoning the old, and always less distinctive.
posted by adipocere at 10:48 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm betting this is all about the Merch.

Given that Dora is a commercial entity created for TV in 2000, and made $1 billion in sales in 2004 alone, I'm betting it was always about the Merch. CBS and Nickelodeon don't air cartoons out of some sense of civic duty. Her entire existence has always been for the purpose of making money.
posted by shen1138 at 10:50 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm wondering why Dora has to "grow up" with her audience - is there a shortage of 3-5-year-olds out there? Or of two-year-olds who are about to turn three?

The new Dora is generic Disneyish girly-girl, and does seem more sexualized than the old Dora.

IANAP, and I'm too old to have grown up on Dora, but I have seen the (old) show a few times.
posted by rtha at 10:51 AM on March 18, 2009


Plate of beans gets a whole new look.
posted by Curry at 10:53 AM on March 18, 2009


I came to think it was completely awesome that a show about exploring around outside had such a following.

With the kids I've known, this hasn't led to anyone wanting to do any actual exploring -- it's simply led to wanting to watch more Dora. Which makes me think that this redesign is a much more honest approach, considering that kids who grew up with an appreciation for Dora and her adventures are STILL going to pretty much turn out like all the other mall princesses. Don't like that? Don't blame what's on TV, blame how much of it you let them watch all along.

Seriously. You want children to become curious and adventurous? Take them on adventures. "Healthy" programming like Dora is made so that parents can feel better about parking their kids in front of it. The kids themselves rarely care what's on, and wouldn't miss TV at all if they hadn't been taught by their parents to depend on it for entertainment.
posted by hermitosis at 10:53 AM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd erase it.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:53 AM on March 18, 2009


Over thinking a plate of red beans and rice. Seriously, how does Lisa Simpson fit all those brains into that strapless red dress? And just who do Daphne and Velma think they are fooling running around the swamp in those outfits?
posted by Sailormom at 10:55 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Greg Nog, excellent analysis - I just want to flag a couple of things in particular:

Dora is no longer an every-child; she is a definite Female.

This is not a character for all kids, this is distinctly a character for Girls

Dora seemed like such an easy way to get little boys to identify with a female character, and such an easy way to normalize the idea that girls are supposed to do things, not just be looked at.


My son is 2 1/2 and is totally obsessed with Dora. We look for Swiper around every corner, he has a backpack, and on Saturday mornings we draw a new map and explore the world (or sometimes the Supermarket). I hate the "girlization" of Dora specifically because I want her to be a role model for my son (yes, I know, there is Diego, that's not the point) so he understands that girls are a partner in the adventure.
posted by anastasiav at 10:56 AM on March 18, 2009 [15 favorites]


All we know about New Dora is that the dolls are "girlier" than their toddler counterparts, that the line will be interactive, and that Dora and her friends will solve mysteries. The hand-waving we're doing about Dora wearing girly stuff isn't too far-removed from the hand-waving about the "sexualized" silhouette. It's all about appearance and what appearance means.

The rough, rugged, daring, smart, independent and curious non-girly-girl is just as much of a stereotype as is the Disney Princess (or any other "type" of female character you can think of: how about Sporty, Baby, Scary and Posh?). "Smart Rugged Girl(TM)" is just one more persona.

That it's still not okay to be "girly" as well as daring, smart, independent and curious is kind of sad. We forward-thinking people put so much energy into making sure nobody's forced into a stereotypical role--and then we criticize women (or even images of women) who wear lipstick and read Glamour. It's as if we can't imagine a girly girl doing anything but those things. Similar sentiments were expressed by Western society as a whole about women in general back in the day.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 10:56 AM on March 18, 2009 [13 favorites]


I do agree that the new Dora doesn't look as likely to grub about in the dirt, but that might be part of my own preconceptions (and possibly the preconceptions of others) about girls who say "ewww" upon seeing a spider versus girls who are prone to picking them up. I know of girls whose wardrobes are dominated by pink and purple, but will cheerfully examine a dead frog.

He's got a point. Back in first grade, the boys'd all go play kickball and most of the girls went and did whatever it is they did but some of the girls would come play with us. They got branded as tomboys, although one of them was this redhaired girl who had the only pierced ears in the whole grade. Her dad was a lawyer for an outlaw biker gang, I nas told by the grownups. Later she was a candidate in the Miss Teen USA pageant but was eliminated in the first cut.


Also, the only Dora backpack I've ever seen was on a Down's Syndrome adult. I did however see a teenager with Spongebob tattoed on his bicep outside a convenience store on Vandam Street a few years back.

My point? I don't know.
posted by jonmc at 10:58 AM on March 18, 2009


And just who do Daphne and Velma think they are fooling running around the swamp in those outfits?

Also, Fred from Scooby Doo and Alan from Josie & the Pussycats were lovers. They even dreesed alike for crying out loud. Which meant there was only one mane satisfying all that two 'toon female lust.... they don't call him 'Shaggy,' for nothing, yo.
posted by jonmc at 11:03 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, there's a lot of extrapolation going on in this thread over one image.

And sexy? Really? Have they seen Bratz or Barbie anytime recently?
posted by Talanvor at 11:07 AM on March 18, 2009


Bratz worry me as role models since they will make a generation of women endeavor to be noseless.
posted by jonmc at 11:09 AM on March 18, 2009


jonmc: Especially Godzilla.
posted by koeselitz at 11:11 AM on March 18, 2009


No 10 year old of MINE is wearing a skirt that short. Not while she's living in MY television.
posted by DU at 11:16 AM on March 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


But otherwise, Greg Nog said it all. They've taken a cute, pudgy little girl and sexualized her. And she's supposed to be ten in this new example.
posted by cmgonzalez at 1:25 PM on March 18


The average age for physical onset of puberty in females is 10.5 years old.
The average age for girls to have their first period is 11.

Dora grew up a bit. She now cares how she looks. She is much more aware that she is a girl than she was when she was 5 or 4 or whatever, and will tend to behavior more girly. I'm sorry if this is an offense to Dora the Explorer canon. It's not like they changed Diego to put a bandana on his head, a teardrop tat under his eye, dressed him in a pendleton shirt buttoned only at the top, and made him join MS 13.

It's a cartoon character for kids. Relax.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:22 AM on March 18, 2009


Women have more prominent (and interesting) lips than men. They're a secondary sexual characteristic, developing at puberty.

Well, that's the real objection, isn't it? They've redesigned a character for little girls to be pubescent. Fashionable clothes, earrings, and secondary sexual characteristics.
posted by desuetude at 11:24 AM on March 18, 2009


If Dora updates every couple of years or so, she ceases to be relevant for the age group she is targeting.

Dora the Explorer backpacks are wildly popular in the middle school set who wear little kid's backpacks in lieu of carrying purses. So, the purple Backpack Dora wears can also be seen on the back of a fully developed 8th grade girl.

If she remains Dora of Ye Olden Days (shorts and tshirt, practical no-fuss haircut, hanging with Boots and evading Swiper), she can still have a powerful effect on a wider audience. It's like old Scooby cartoons; I can sit and watch newer versions (even those awful movies) today because they are still relevant and I know the characters. If Dora starts including her friend, Alex Skanky-Witch, and Alex starts complaining about Boots not bathing... the context changes and the interest plummets.

Does Mattel fear that Dora will become Lara Croft if they keep her in shorts, tshirt, practical haircut? If so, what's wrong with a girl that kicks butt, explores, and makes boys cry (amongst other things)? Or are they trying to soften that so Dora becomes more lady-like? What's wrong with shorts and tshirts and practical haircuts?
posted by lostinsupermarket at 11:32 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Old Dora, new Dora, whatever. All I know is this has got to be the thread where I can finally say that Dora in any form is just fucking awful. There is literally no length to which I will not go to escape having to watch Dora.

"Oh sure honey, we can watch your Dora video. Lemme just put the disc in... there we go. Now we settle back and OH NO! I accidentally stabbed myself in the eye with this colored pencil! No, no sweetie, you stay here and watch Dora. Daddy'll be back from the hospital in about 22 minutes."
posted by rusty at 11:32 AM on March 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


The rough, rugged, daring, smart, independent and curious non-girly-girl is just as much of a stereotype as is the Disney Princess (or any other "type" of female character you can think of: how about Sporty, Baby, Scary and Posh?). "Smart Rugged Girl(TM)" is just one more persona.

That it's still not okay to be "girly" as well as daring, smart, independent and curious is kind of sad.


That's... really very insightful. Now I think there are some justified fears that the new image is a harbinger of a total makeover, personality included, but it also does seem to play to certain insecurities and biases of the audience wrt what a smart, independent girl is supposed to look like.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:41 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Looks like just another SyFy-type rebranding, designed to appeal to new audiences while often abandoning the old, and always less distinctive-adipoce

I think this is it. Owners of niche products look greedily at general mass market products and think up ways they can move their product into that market. Growth based management philosophy almost requires this type of thinking. But niche products usually don't stand a chance against the mass market products. The danger is that you'll lose your niche and end up with nothing (SyFy). Dora can't compete with Hanna Montana. Probably the best approach is to have a range of successful niches.

I have two young sons who loved the Dora show. It presented puzzles that were simple enough for them to solve at a young age, which gave them confidence in their problem solving ability. As has been mentioned, kids will grow older and move on. I don't know if they would have cared if Dora was more girly at the time as long as the premise was the same. But as I once mentioned in a previous posting, their love for Dora probably ended prematurely when they went into a Toys R'Us and saw all the Dora stuff in the all-pink girl-zone rather than in the neutral Lego section where it belonged.

So I'm not against a more girly Dora, I'm against reasons for the change. Stop trying to extend the product! Give her an older cousin or something!
posted by eye of newt at 11:44 AM on March 18, 2009


"Smart Rugged Girl(TM)" is just one more persona.
Yeah, and how many of those do you see in mass media who aren't sexpots, too?

Sporty, Baby, Scary and Posh were interchangeable - "Which male fantasy would you like to be today?" *Not* the sort of thing that makes for good role models.
posted by Karmakaze at 11:50 AM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Karmakaze: That's a very good point.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 11:52 AM on March 18, 2009


I find it more than a little creepy and disturbing that the two ads accompanying the story are for Hooter's (Do you have what it takes?) and Victoria's Secret.
posted by oozy rat in a sanitary zoo at 11:55 AM on March 18, 2009


Oops. The link with the Hooter's & Victoria's Secret ads is the PopCrunch (second) link.
posted by oozy rat in a sanitary zoo at 11:58 AM on March 18, 2009


In lots of cartoons, the male characters, being "normal", have simply-drawn mouths -- a line or a circle or whatever; only the females, being the abnormal gender, have to have lips noticeably visible to signal what they are.

This is a weird criticism. All the men I've ever seen have noticeable lips so wouldn't omitting lip-defining lines qualify as abnormal and lazy? And is it laziness that made Dora without nostrils? Or fingernails? Are there any insidious implications of gender politics from these iconic simplifications in line art? Or are they merely style choices?
posted by effwerd at 12:02 PM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


So, Dora's "growing up" to appeal to older girls. Who replaces Dora, then? Because the girls which were the target demo are still out there.

"It's like old Scooby cartoons; I can sit and watch newer versions (even those awful movies) today because they are still relevant and I know the characters."

Scooby Doo was always a cheap-ass Hanna Barbera cartoon. It was fun when I was a kid, but it has no depth at all, and the art is terrible, like all the HB cartoons. I still find the classic WB cartoons funny, but HB is something that was never very good to begin with.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:04 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


It was fun when I was a kid, but it has no depth at all,

Scooby Doo had no depth at all? Really? Next you'll be telling me that the flavor of your french fries had no complexity....
posted by jonmc at 12:06 PM on March 18, 2009


I don't actually think that Dora's growing up will appeal to older girls. Girls tend to be interested in things that are interpreted as being too old for them - 17 year olds don't read 17, 14 year olds do. Dora is already associated with an age range (I don't know, 3-7? I've never seen the show), and girls over that range will have already decided they are "too old" for Dora the Explorer. Some 15-17 year olds will still like her, the same way they like Spongebob and the way my peers liked telletubbies - ironically and nostagically. So, whatever my opinion on her makeover, I think the effort is misplaced.

As to my opinion on the makeover - I think New Dora looks like any tween girl, and I think they did a good job of making her cute and fresh. Still, I really dislike it, for all the reasons stated before (unnecessarily sexualized, boys can't really identify with her any more, generic Disney princess), and also because she is ill-prepared to dig. No sneakers, no backpack, ribbons (that will catch in brambles). She's not the same character anymore, why do they have to call her by the same name?
posted by arcticwoman at 12:20 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oops, that should read:

17 year olds don't read "Seventeen" magazine
posted by arcticwoman at 12:20 PM on March 18, 2009


"I feel we should Rasta-fy her by — ten percent of so."
posted by Bizurke at 12:25 PM on March 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Set phasers to rasta-fy!"
posted by yoink at 12:34 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


nooneyouknow--
One of the linked articles said that they have gotten rid of Swiper and Boots for "New Dora". Instead, she will be hanging with a some new girl friends.

Really? Which one? I couldn't find it, but if this is accurate, I find it much much more disturbing than a visual redesign.
posted by nat at 12:36 PM on March 18, 2009


"Give me a nice shmear of surfer."
posted by milarepa at 12:39 PM on March 18, 2009


This is a shame, for all the reasons stated above: there was no reason to "grow her up" other than the fact that the marketeers were lazy and didn't want to spend the time to grow a new brand to prostitute, so they decided to capitalize on one of the very few "non-princessy" girl characters in the childrens market.

Because girls, people will only love you if you're pretty. Smart girls don't get love. Girls who carry backpacks and read books and are kind to animals are geeks and we should laugh at them until they get some lipstick and accessories, amirite?

And that Spanish thing? Oh honey, you can hide that. Drop the accent, add a little pale powder, and you're tan...not Hispanic. You don't want to be a filthy Spanish speaking brown skinned child. You want to be a light skinned, Anglo speaking pretty, pretty, princess.

Objections about sexualization aside, my biggest issue is that this Mattel, in all their Barbie evil, has said that it's not ok for girls to be different, to be pudgy and book-y, and adventuresome. It sucks, and I'm really saddened that they did this.
posted by dejah420 at 12:42 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pendejos!
posted by rokusan at 12:47 PM on March 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't know anything about the character or the show, but what's disturbing here is some people's definition of "sexualize." That looks like an utterly normal, completelty non-sexual rendering of a preteen girl. Short of a burqua, I don't know what you do to make that image any less sexual.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:50 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


The clothes are more suited to hanging out at the mall than digging in the dirt.
...
They've made this new Dora prettier, girlier. Dora is no longer an every-child; she is a definite Female. She is Pretty. She doesn't look like she's about to roll out a map and figure something out in the woods, she looks like she's about to browse the aisles at Claire's Accessories. This is not a character for all kids, this is distinctly a character for Girls, where Girl equals Pretty, not as ready to get her hands dirty.

Yeah because we all know that wearing skirts makes you fall over when you run and wearing bracelets makes your hands fall off when they touch dirt. These are truths of gender binarism and gender performance worth perpetuting.

Whatever. You can explore AND be pretty. A little dress and leggings is great for hiking in. Lose the leggings, and you're ready to wade and crawl and everything.

And boohoo -- boys won't identify with Dora now? What is that, reverse sexism? Figure it out, boys. We girls have been forced to identify with primarily male characters for EVER.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:57 PM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger wrote That it's still not okay to be "girly" as well as daring, smart, independent and curious is kind of sad. We forward-thinking people put so much energy into making sure nobody's forced into a stereotypical role--and then we criticize women (or even images of women) who wear lipstick and read Glamour. It's as if we can't imagine a girly girl doing anything but those things. Similar sentiments were expressed by Western society as a whole about women in general back in the day.

You'd have a point, except that they also anounced that Dora won't be exploring anymore. She'll be hanging around "solving mysteries" with some girlfriends. It isn't so much that we saw the new look and said "well, she's out of the jungle", but that they took her out of the jungle.

Presumably she'll be spending a lot of time at the mall now.
posted by sotonohito at 12:58 PM on March 18, 2009


You can explore AND be pretty

* twirls giddily *
posted by everichon at 1:16 PM on March 18, 2009


"Scooby Doo had no depth at all? Really? Next you'll be telling me that the flavor of your french fries had no complexity...."

Bugs Bunny is a character with depth. Scooby, Shaggy and the rest of the gang are not. This is true generally of the H-B characters compared to the classic WB cartoon characters.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:20 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Presumably she'll be spending a lot of time at the mall now.

Can we not anticipate and thereby enact sexism, please?

I hold out hope that solving mysteries in an urban setting while looking feminine might not be evil or a damnedly consumerist influence on our kids. Tweens aren't engaged with the kinds of activities little Dora does, that's just a developmental fact. Kids that age need positive social models, knowledges that allow mobility in social settings, not just knowledges like how to say "caterpillar" in Spanish and what kinds of animals live in a river. That stuff gets interesting again later.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:20 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


AV, do you go hiking in skirts a lot? Because I can think of about 80 reasons why that would be uncomfortable and/or embarassing.

My son loves Dora, but there are no Dora toys for boys; it's all about Diego! who has a RESCUE PACK!, which is super butch, and who is quite annoying. At least Dora wanders around finding things; Diego spends all his time rescuing brain-damaged animals who fall off cliffs or get tangled in vines.

What I always liked about Dora was that her adventures were somewhat surreal; talking objects, giant red (male? somewhat gay?) chickens, Swiper's mysterious obsession with stealing things and throwing them into the forest. Now she'll be another Barbie-lookalike with a hair salon and "fun times at the Mall!" and be deeply, deeply boring. Just like Diego.
posted by emjaybee at 1:21 PM on March 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


Yes, I do go hiking in skirts a lot. 80 reasons? That's very imaginative. Uhhh, I got a little poison oak last week, but so did my boyfriend who was wearing boy clothes. I have never understood this. Skirts dry quickly, they move freely, they breathe and feel nice in warm breezy weather, and people aren't really that interested in trying to sneak a peek at my ass when I'm in the middle of nowhere. I dislike shorts and find them frumpy and unflattering.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:42 PM on March 18, 2009


Yeah, but lets get it clear: the new Dora doesn't hike.

She's "moved to the big city", and no longer explores. Instead (key word: instead), she's into fashion. No more backpack, no more map. I guess she still solves puzzles (problems at the mall?)

I wonder what the original creators think of all this?
posted by eye of newt at 1:52 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, am I the only Chicano so thankful to see a brown person on television that I don't particularly care if the show is insipid or they turn her into a Bratz doll? Whatever your complaints, Dora is not a token character. She's a clearly Latino character with her own show. When I was a kid, all we had was Ricky Ricardo and Speedy Gonzales, and both of those were holdovers from an old era.
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:52 PM on March 18, 2009


I just showed her to my daughter (who is almost 9 & a fan of Dora) and she said, "she's very pretty". That would be my reaction too. This is not Bratz or the like. I don't see any problem.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:53 PM on March 18, 2009


they also anounced that Dora won't be exploring anymore.

I'm not seeing the bit where it says she no longer explores. It says that she has an online world, but I don't see it saying that her "exploration" will be confined solely to this world. Maybe I'm just missing the relevant passage somewhere.
posted by yoink at 1:56 PM on March 18, 2009


Sorry, but no boobs = no sexy.
posted by Eideteker at 1:56 PM on March 18, 2009


Nat,

It was this link, which got it's info from this article.

From the article:
But the new version is a significant switch from the Dora many preschoolers have known, aging her so the kids who tend to drop Dora once they hit kindergarten and first grade remain connected to the new character, who has a new group of girlfriends to go exploring with (Sorry, but Boots, the Map, Swiper and other characters from the show didn't make the transition).


Thanks a lot man for ruining my plans to avoid work. I didn't mention which one it was my original comment is because I didn't remember and was too lazy to re-read them all to find out which one.

posted by nooneyouknow at 2:18 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


No more Swiper? Now there's something to get upset about.
posted by stinkycheese at 2:20 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are cartoon characters now meant to grow up with a particular age cohort? Does this mean that Tom & Jerry will shortly be advertising retirement condos in Florida, while Homer Simpson hosts Newsnight?
posted by athenian at 2:22 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ambrosia Voyeur wrote Can we not anticipate and thereby enact sexism, please?

I hold out hope that solving mysteries in an urban setting while looking feminine might not be evil or a damnedly consumerist influence on our kids


I fail to see my prediction as sexist. Nick has told us that she isn't exploring anymore. Nick has told us that she'll be in an urban setting. There are, really, only a few environments in an urban setting available to children. School, the mall, libraries, parks, and home. Of those, which do you think is going to be easiest for a lazy production company to come up with faux-adventures, while simultaneously producing a lot of marketable spin off stuff?

I hold out no hope at all, its going to be Dora the Mallrat. Hell, the shoes they showed her in aren't suitable for even a brisk walk in the park, nevermind anything more strenuous. But they'd look great outside Gap for Kids (TM) while Dora and her girlfriends find out who's been messing with the delicious Frappachinos (TM) at the Starbucks (TM) in the Mall!
posted by sotonohito at 2:31 PM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I figured out the single context in which I can support these changes.

Aside from the exploration and problem-solving, the raddest thing about original Dora is the bilingual aspect. If they're taking away the jungle and her animal pals they had best play the language element heavy.

It'd be cool if the developers assemble her new cast of friends from different quarters of the globe - a pal that speaks Spanish, a pal that speaks Arabic, a pal that speaks Chinese and so on, enough to have a good variety without being overwhelming. Maybe have Neu Dora join a class made entirely of exchange students or something. Focus could rotate through all the different languages in play, just as focus rotates through the various cast members. Like, on the episode Dora's adventuring with her Russian friend, she learns how to say привет and пока and maybe eats a пирог at the end - that kinda thing.

We already know for sure they've clear-cut the cartoon jungle and are injecting fashion. I'll live with the capitalist agenda if they'll push my lefty multicultural agenda along with it. They want a generation keyed to purchase things? Fine, they're not the first. I want this notion of "English only" in the dustbin of history where it belongs. So sell the little dolls and what not, just suit the clothing to their cultures and include fun packets with basic phrases and words from each other character's home countries with the dolls. Embed these kids with a multilingual instinct while establishing brand identity, would you please?
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:33 PM on March 18, 2009


Wow, so the argument becomes about how comfortable the shoes on a drawing appear to be and how, realistically, when the girl moves from the jungle full of talking animals to a city, she'll obviously spend all her time modeling consumerist practices. Logic and imagination have left us.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:58 PM on March 18, 2009


AV, do you go hiking in skirts a lot? Because I can think of about 80 reasons why that would be uncomfortable and/or embarassing.

What a weird criticism. Not doing much hiking yourself, I guess, or you'd know that. A skirt is the hiking accessory on the Nepalese trails. To the point where I know a couple of guys who have improvised them.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:08 PM on March 18, 2009


When's the robot version coming out?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:08 PM on March 18, 2009


Sotomohito wrote: You'd have a point, except that they also anounced that Dora won't be exploring anymore. She'll be hanging around "solving mysteries" with some girlfriends. It isn't so much that we saw the new look and said "well, she's out of the jungle", but that they took her out of the jungle.

Presumably she'll be spending a lot of time at the mall now.


It may be that "solving mysteries" provides an environment (with boundaries) for exploration and problem-solving in much the same way that the jungle did. I'm guessing the "mysteries" will be solved in familiar environments and involve familiar people. None of them will be scary, big-city mysteries involving drug busts or chalk outlines. Dora will stay well within her safe zone. The lessons will go beyond "this is a caterpiller" (as someone upthread suggested). Hopefully, there will be more going on than "There's a sale at Gap Kids! Can you say '50% off'? . . . . . . . . Good!"

And if not, she'll be relegated to the Aisle of Pink Nightmares with Barbie, Bratz, et. al.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 3:11 PM on March 18, 2009


Yup, a femme girly girl can be active, can hike in her skirt or whatever, but don't we already have plenty of commercial examples of that? Barbie was an astraunaut in the 1960s. Do we really need one more pretty princess? I find it depressing.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 3:12 PM on March 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


That is so obnoxious. I'm fucking sick of the "tarting up" of little girl characters. Strawberry Shortcake was the last one I saw of this and this is more of the same. And some people think that the feminist movement is over. Puhleese. We've got a long way to go, baby.
posted by agregoli at 3:25 PM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


A little dress and leggings is great for hiking in.

Not with those shoes. Hiking boots are more appropriate than slip-ons.
posted by agregoli at 3:35 PM on March 18, 2009


Dora is a TV character. The only thing she ever motivated a child to do was watch more TV. If you want your kid to go hiking, turn off the TV. I have no qualms about going all breastfeeding-advocate crazy on everyone here and saying that letting you kid watch Dora causes them irreparable harm and is tantamount to child abuse. What she wears is irrelevant.
posted by GuyZero at 3:46 PM on March 18, 2009


Well, I road tested this on my boys, one in pre-k one in grade school.

Older Boy got a goofy grin on his face, Younger Boy just kind of stared.

"Do you know who this is?" I asked.

"No," they chorused.

"It kind of looks like Dora," Younger Boy finally said.

"Do you like her?"

Older Boy still had the goofy grin and nodded. Younger Boy didn't know what to say.

As much as their dad and I made fun of the crazy biosphere that she and Diego occupied, it was something for the kids to hang their imaginations on.

I still haven't gotten all the details yet, but I'm glad my younguns have almost outgrown this. We're going to stick to our tapes and DVDs (with D&D adventuring together,tyvm) and the old "Steve" episodes of Blues Clues.
posted by lysdexic at 3:54 PM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Claudia, I think most people agree Dora is not Barbie, even now, even under the harsh light cast by a publicized costume change. Her clothes aren't supposed to matter, because she's Dora and those things aren't her priorities, which has never been the case for Barbie, whose innumerable careers were nothing more than costumes for the original Barbie, a fashion model. I think they've attired her in a pretty normative way, pretty appropriate to her age and context.

Beyond that, I don't know what we expect, and I study these representational issues as part of my work. It's a visual medium, and there are generic conventions at play, the removal of which makes the content difficult to parse. So Rachel Maddow wears lip gloss because if she didn't we'd be perplexed at why she looked unwell. I can't conceive of a humanoid tween cartoon character who doesn't have some kind of gender markers. Kids are just not a big post-gender audience. Dora's behaviors and ideas should and will matter more than her skirt length to kids, and I really boggle at why this conversation is structured in an opposing fashion. It's as though we're judging her based on her appearance. It's confusing that we would do that in order to protect our kids from doing it.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:11 PM on March 18, 2009


If anything this strikes me as ageist, not sexist.

They're making Dora "older" in the hope that school-age girls will bond with her. Fine, but their market strength has always been pre-school girls (and boys) and to keep that audience they'll need to maintain the basic language-teaching and other educational devices at the same level, right?

So now we'll have a 12-year old girl who's always talking down to 5 and 6 year olds? This shifts Dora from being someone her viewers self-identify with to yet another cartoon "smart big sister".

Which can work, sure, but that's a pretty jam-packed roster already.

As for cartoon puberty... yeah, ick. What's next, Bob the Builder starts spending half his time scratching his ass and cat-calling the cute girls who pass by the construction site sandbox?
posted by rokusan at 4:23 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Do you like her?"
Older Boy still had the goofy grin and nodded.


So contra the "oh no they couldn't have meant that" apologists above... we have empirical evidence that they know what they're doing: tweeny Dora is apparently hot.

(Lunit, how on earth did you resist "Dorita" as the title for this post?)
posted by rokusan at 4:26 PM on March 18, 2009


Wanna stop Dora from being changed?

Photoshop the new character design, rendering it pornographic. If it's done well, it'll go viral.

Problem solved.

new problem created
posted by five fresh fish at 4:56 PM on March 18, 2009 [8 favorites]


(Lunit, how on earth did you resist "Dorita" as the title for this post?)

Damn, that is brilliant.
posted by lunit at 5:02 PM on March 18, 2009


Her clothes aren't supposed to matter.

This redesign is problematic because it seems to herald a shift in this precise quality of Dora. Suddenly her clothes seem to matter. Honestly, the shoes are one of my biggest problems. Those shoes are not for exploring, not as I know it.

Can we not anticipate and thereby enact sexism, please.

On the face of it, this is one of the more absurd things I've seen in my time on MeFi. Can you explain what you mean?
posted by wemayfreeze at 5:20 PM on March 18, 2009


Toddler Dora stands straight, both feet on the ground, and waves.

I think Toddler Dora teaches you to be a good person.

I think that's great. I like the values it proposes: they're based on being curious, creative, industrious, honourable, independent, sensible. Teaches the values that are really fundamental to being a successful person.

Tween Dora poses, and in that careful 3/4 pose with one foot off the floor.

I think Tween Dora teaches you to look like a (certain type of) "good person".

I find the latter a little repugnant. There's a whiff of teaching children to value something about a stereotypical consumerism based on cult followship of celebrity styles. I don't think a strong sense of fashion is really fundamental to being a successful person .

There's a lot of money to be made by teaching children to spend their money on fashion. Fashion magazines, fashion clothing, fashion designers, fashionable celebrities, fashion jewelry, fashion television — billions of dollars of industry and trade.

I very much dislike how the style and fashion industry have claimed the minds of children at ever-younger ages. This is targeting pre-teens. That stinks.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:27 PM on March 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Can we not anticipate and thereby enact sexism, please.

On the face of it, this is one of the more absurd things I've seen in my time on MeFi. Can you explain what you mean?


Well, obviously I disagree that changing Dora's age, which I think believably necessitates a costume change, and changing her MO to more closely match the developmental needs and market demands of older children is inherently improper, sexist or ageist. Maybe that's just my bias from growing up with the appalling but accepted-as-canon Muppet Babies. I don't think different versions of the same character are always a travesty. Usually suckier? Yeah, sure. I don't think this Dora will be as profitable a product.

I also don't find her appearance or dress unusually sexualized or so feminine as to be limiting to identification or expression of ability and independence. Yeah, she's wearing ballet flats, and that's okay for an urban setting, in my book. I don't imagine her new mystery-solving urban ways will default to offensive or overly gendered or consumerist content.

And I think making assumptions like those on the basis of the information contained in these links is kneejerk, overreaching and somewhat sexist. All we have to go on for the content of the new Dora's character is urban mystery solving with girlfriends and her appearance. I don't think what she's wearing should be taken as proof of anything, especially her abilities or her appropriateness as a role model. So, assuming that looking like that entails doing some other feminine stereotyped thing, ie, spending a lot of time at the mall, is anticipating sexism and thereby reiterating it. Not something I think is a good move, even in this context of cynical website. Or maybe it's just that I'm more optimistic in general.

Anyway, I think this really brings up other issues of gender development, which any parent knows happen well before age 4. I understand the upset over having such a remarkably ender-neutral character as Dora amended, skipping years instantly and emerging GIRL instead of KID, but until the adult culture makes more changes to its fixation on gender binarism I don't think we can expect genderless representations of kids to be very apt figures for children's educational programming. It's an uphill battle, and that's an understatement.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:42 PM on March 18, 2009


Little Dora annoys me because SHE'S ALWAYS TALKING VERY LOUDLY but then, my kids talk very loudly too which I sometimes find annoying also (oh my god, mother admits to her own children sometimes being annoying! Bad mother alert!).

Both my boys like to watch Dora the Explorer. Surely Boots would be able to be incorporated into the new show? He's like her monkey brother! He was going to teach the babies the monkey dance! As far as the on-line thing goes, the show always had the little point and click arrow thing going on, so maybe they are just going to expand that a bit? As for the cartoon character growing up thing, they did the same with Ben10 and I haven't heard much of an uproar about that (admittedly, I haven't looked into it at all). Back when I was just an Aunt they did it to the Rugrats too.

On the whole, I'm not terribly freaked out about the whole thing, because I'm guessing my boys will eventually consider Dora the Explorer (even featuring new older Dora) to be a baby show and they've got a stack of dvds to watch until then anyway. I'm just glad that they're both almost over Teletubbies and that Boo-bah never really took off in this house (now that's some freaky shit!)
posted by h00py at 5:55 PM on March 18, 2009


The other "new look" for Dora
posted by swell at 6:37 PM on March 18, 2009


Dora grew up a bit. She now cares how she looks.

I'm trying to pin down why I find this offensive. Hmm, let's see. Is it because looking like she's ready for exploring is not considered an "OK" way to be? Is it because caring how she looks means caring about how the Male Gaze is going to evaluate her worth as a person? Or maybe it's because caring (too much about) how one looks (at the expense of one's formerly immensely satisfying self-concept) isn't really necessarily such an incredibly great thing? Or is being superficial now the goal?

Or maybe I just remember how growing up once you reach A Certain Age how you dress and "present yourself" is more important than what you do, what you think, or what's important to you. I'm sad to see this happen to Dora. How about some not-conventionally-"hot" choices for girls to look up to in the tween years too? I know I'm wishing for the impossible.

And about "growing up" - I am one who finally grew up and realized that my inept attempts to look the way other people wanted me to look were futile and hurtful to my self-image. I was always a tomboy, and never had the money for the proper fashion gear, and I felt terrible about myself as a result. Because I knew how much people judge you based on how you dress, the makeup you wear, your ability to accessorize.

I grew up and realized that I should only need to please myself. If people can't handle me the way I am, then I don't want their company or friendship anyway. I certainly haven't had any trouble attracting boyfriends who accept me for how I naturally dress and present myself.

I hope more little girls can realize that for themselves, at an earlier age than it took me to realize it. It would save a lot of pain. I shudder when I think of what will happen to my daughter, who is only nine now. I hope I can steer her right to be true to herself regardless of the bullshit pressures of society. The new Dora will not help.
posted by marble at 6:59 PM on March 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


Well, I guess it's Dora, but she doesn't look like she's going to do a whole lot of exploring. Now, I'm a former little girl hiker who never let something like an outfit stand in her way of getting pooped on by snakes and frogs as much as possible, heck, I don't let it stand in my way now.And I'm fully with Ambrosia Voyeur on comfort and convenience of the Hiking Skirt if I'm not going into the deep brush. (Not pink, though, light colors spook the critters. And I call total BS on the shoes.)

Dora isn't a real person, though. She's a cartoon, and the way a cartoon character is dressed is a shorthand indication of that character's intentions. A girl in a pink dress and ballet flats can be Smart Girl, Cool Girl, Mystery Solving Girl, Multicultural Ambassador Girl,but she's probably not Exploring Girl. Especially not when her Exploring buddies have been thrown over for a new group of Girl Friends. A feminine girl can be tough, but with the small number of cues I'm given here I think that's not going to be the case, especially since this is being filtered through major retailers, who are vanishingly unlikely to buck any defined gender stereotypes any time soon. It would be cool if I'm wrong, but I don't think I am.

So the reason I find this to be a mystifying and kind of boneheaded move is that this character is not Dora. She has the same name and vaguely similar features, but her entire purpose is different. So we have this tween Not-Dora. She's now too old and too different to appeal to her original demographic, but she still has a name that will give her a "baby toy" stigma with the intended new audience. She's in a different environment and doing different things than Dora does. Who is this? Who's going to buy this?

You know what I would have like to see? A slightly older Dora having slightly more realistic adventures. I would have liked her to encounter real animals, and real people from different cultures. I would have liked to see her adopt a more practical wardrobe for seeing the world as a swashbuckling adventurer.

I don't know if Lara Croft is necessarily the character I'd base the redesign around, but kinda. I remember being around that age and seeing the first Raiders of the Lost Ark, and thinking that that lady was so rad and beautiful and tough. I loved that she wasn't a girly helpless princess - her toughness and independence made her stand out. I guess I would base my own personal reimagining of older Dora on that, if pressed to come up with something better.



AUGH I can't believe I just devoted that much thought to Dora the freaking Explorer. My nieces love her and it drives me bats.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:42 PM on March 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm not so much scared by her new outfit as I am by her glassy, thousand-yard stare. What is she on and did she bring enough for the whole class?

Funny you should ask...
posted by armage at 9:52 PM on March 18, 2009


All we have to go on for the content of the new Dora's character is urban mystery solving with girlfriends and her appearance. I don't think what she's wearing should be taken as proof of anything, especially her abilities or her appropriateness as a role model.

Disagree with you here. We have a LOT more to go on, including the history of girl toys and commercial girl/female representation and everything you know about lots. Her new appearance is bringing her pretty much into the center-mainstream of the very narrow universe of commercial female characters. Yes, there are all different ways to be a girl. But that universe just got more narrow. (This is maybe totally obnoxious but I wonder what is getting your goat here ... I know you know there are not many non-girly commercial representations of teens/women out there. I'm sad -- actually, really sad -- that there is one less. Being sad about this is not inconsistent with the idea that girly teens/women can be all kinds of people and that representations should reflect that, too.)
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:33 PM on March 18, 2009


Claudia, I understand what you're saying. My observation in this case is more that there is not one less anything, really. Baby girl Dora is less gendered than older girl Dora, and that's in line with reality as I know it. That inexorable march toward more gendering coincident with more time spent developing in this culture is a bummer for all things genderqueer, but a realistic one, not some kind of heartbreaking outlier or robbery. And both Doras exist, so I just don't see it as subtraction. I see how it is less than ideal, but really, we're talking about Mattel here, and even though I consider myself an idealist, the academic with the analytical disanciation from the culture-as-object in me says that the mediocre middle of the bell curve is where the market is, and that my values have basically no purchase (pun) in capitalist system. *shrug!* So we're gonna keep seeing gender conventions perpetuated in media, because that's what people generally, fundamentally desire. I'd love to throw a wrench in the works, but I don't think it really happens in a single-text basis. I don't know if I believe that the kind of freedom of expression and identity that is possible in life can actually BE presented in the media in any non-schizoid way, anyway. Someone will always be under-represented. (Not that I in any way discount the importance of present under-representations.) Media != Reality. Teach kids that, teach them not to be limited by concrete representations of culture, and don't worry so much about the shoes on her feet, and -- jeez -- wait to see what she has to say!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:15 AM on March 19, 2009


Huh. I had never heard of her until she was on The Daily Show last week. As I recall, she explained CNBC's role in running up the real estate bubble. She also called Jim Cramer a pendejo. Cute kid.

Obligatory: Rule 34
posted by ryanrs at 12:58 AM on March 19, 2009


Coming into this a little late. But... Here are my thoughts.

Dora The Explorer is a bad show. You can talk about what kind of role model she is or isn't, with the exploring and the can-do feminist spirit, but that's not the point of the show.

The point of the show is to teach kids to play video games. The whole design of the show is meant to introduce kids to the storytelling style and appearance of video games so that they'll be primed for it when they're older. As a teacher of math, spanish, values or whatever, Dora is condescending, repetitive and not particularly effective. I don't think kids learn a lot of lessons from Dora that aren't already hardwired into them developmentally -- except for the understanding of video-game narrative.

(What's so bad about video-games you might ask? Very simple. I don't like 'em. Get off my lawn.)

This reboot of Dora as an older character seems like a pretty standard attempt at expanding the franchise. I imagine they still intend to show the original Dora shows. And then they'll show these ones as well. They figured, "hey, Dora's great and we've got a pretty solid market with these 3-5 year olds, but if we had the 3-5 year olds AND the 6-8 year olds, then we could make mucho dinero.

I'm sure that in spite of our best wishes for them the target audience for this will love it to pieces. The creators will have tested and retested and focus grouped her to the point where they've left nothing to chance. I'm sure they also focus-grouped how sexualized she needed to be and made her skirt (or shirt) exactly as short as the numbers told them to do.
posted by wabbittwax at 4:34 AM on March 19, 2009


The part they didn't tell us: She's a LESBIAN!
posted by fungible at 4:53 AM on March 19, 2009


Women have more prominent (and interesting) lips than men. They're a secondary sexual characteristic, developing at puberty.

Huh? I've never heard of this before, or observed it. And Wikipedia doesn't mention it at all.
posted by harriet vane at 5:04 AM on March 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I remember being around that age and seeing the first Raiders of the Lost Ark, and thinking that that lady was so rad and beautiful and tough. I loved that she wasn't a girly helpless princess - her toughness and independence made her stand out.

'xactly. If she is Dora the Explorer, don't dress her like some a ditz who has become way more invested in her social status and peer group and conforming. Those girls don't have adventures, much less go exploring. She should be strong and unique: an explorer.

Blue jeans and a t-shirt, except when a dress is more appropriate. And maybe a bullship, which she uses responsibly.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:47 PM on March 19, 2009


Bullwhip, I say.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:47 PM on March 19, 2009


« Older Quick, Robin! To the batosphere!   |   You gotta take the good with the bad, I guess. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post